A nutritious diet is one of the most influential factors contributing to our overall health and wellbeing.

Chronic disease and diet-related conditions are becoming increasingly common in the Australian population. More than two-thirds of adults and one in four children are overweight or obese, and much of this can be attributed to the type of food – and the amount – we eat.

The health stars rate the overall nutritional value of similar foods on a scale from half a star to five stars. The more stars, the healthier the product.

The Health Star Rating system uses a strict calculation to determine the rating for each food product based on its ingredients. The calculation for ratings has recently been strengthened so that food with higher amounts of salt and total sugars receive lower ratings, while fruit and vegetables (including some canned and frozen produce) automatically score five stars, the highest rating.

To make healthier food choices easier, the system helps you compare similar packaged products at-a-glance, such as two cereals rather than comparing yogurt to cereal.

The Health Star Rating system was introduced in 2014 as a joint Australian, state and territory governments and New Zealand Government initiative. It was developed in collaboration with industry, public health, and consumer groups.

The system is voluntary, but star ratings are appearing on a growing number of products.

Fresh is best but frozen or canned vegetables are also great choices. If you are buying packaged foods, simply choosing higher star rated products can make a difference to your health now and in the future.

Learn more about these changes and how the Health Star Ratings system makes healthier food choices easier.